Rowing Olympian Sanita Puspure advanced to the semi-finals of the single sculls on a remarkable day for the Irish at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France yesterday.
Puspure, who has battled injury since competing in London three years ago, led at the halfway line but was pipped in a sprint finish by Denmark’s Olympic medallist, Fie Udby Erichsen, and Micheen Thornycroft of Zimbabwe. But third place was enough to qualify for the A/B semi-finals, from which nine out of 12 boats will qualify for Rio in 2016.
Earlier in the day, both Ireland lightweight double sculls also qualified for the semis and moved a step closer to Olympic qualification. Sinead Jennings and Claire Lambe, who had won their opening day heat, produced a storming finish to come home behind Germany (7:13.95 to 7:15.49) with Poland in third.
Paul and Gary O’Donovan sensationally beat a fancied New Zealand to take third in their quarter, which puts them in the A/B semi-finals and the top 12.
Britain and Italy took the top spots but a strong spring finish by the Cork men proved crucial in securing passage to the next phase.
Both those crews are in the top 12 in their events - a top 11 spot will qualify the boats for the Olympic Games.
Earlier in the day Ireland women’s four - Aifric Keogh, Monika Dukarska, Leonora Kennedy and Barbara O’Brien - finished fifth in their race to decide lane placings in the final. The Ireland women’s double of Helen Hannigan and Lisa Dilleen fought hard to qualify from their repechage, but finished fourth, with just two semi-final places available. Pararower Karol Doherty took third place in his C/D semi-final of the arms and shoulders single sculls and will compete in the C final.
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